Merrimack Repertory Theatre Blog



Merrimack Repertory Theatre has completed its 30th Anniversary season, and is proud to report that 2008-2009 was both an artistic and financial success.  With the books now closed on fiscal year 2009, which ended June 30, the company can report that Merrimack Repertory Theatre has finished in the black and recorded a modest operating surplus for the fourth consecutive year.  The surplus will further reduce the theatre’s mortgage on its Bagshaw Mills office/rehearsal/housing facility and build operating cash reserves.  The economic crisis that began early last season has had a dire effect on several local non-profit theatres, but thanks to the proactive leadership of Merrimack Rep’s Board of Trustees and staff and the continued support of its thousands of subscribers and donors, the company is weathering the financial storm.


Piper Goodeve and Nick Mannix in "The Fantasticks." Photo by Meghan Moore

Piper Goodeve and Nick Mannix in "The Fantasticks." Photo by Meghan Moore

While this theatre’s fiscal responsibility during the year is notable, the true mission of an arts organization is to produce high quality work.  The 2008-2009 season had many highlights for theatergoers.  The season opened with The Fantasticks, the theatre’s first full musical in 15 years, featured two regional premieres in A View of the Harbor and Tranced, and closed with a critically acclaimed production of the Eugene O’Neill classic A Moon for the Misbegotten. A View of the Harbor marked the company’s 200th professional production, and Merrimack Rep sold its one-millionth ticket during the run of Skylight.  The theatre’s commitment to hiring the country’s best available actors paid off, as Amanda Fulks took home the Best Actress Award from the Independent Reviewers of New England for her performance in Skylight, and Elizabeth Aspenlieder was honored by the Boston Theatre Critics Association for Outstanding Solo Performance in Bad Dates.  In April 2009, Merrimack Rep also received 7 Independent Reviewers of New England awards for its 2008 production of Edward Albee’s A Delicate Balance, including Best Production of a Play and Best Director for Artistic Director Charles Towers.

Amanda Fulks (left), Christopher McHale (right)

Amanda Fulks & Chris McHale in Skylight. Photo by Meghan Moore

Speaking on the subject of artistic achievement at the theatre, Merrimack Rep Artistic Director Charles Towers stated, “Each season at Merrimack Repertory Theatre we strive to make improvements both on and off stage, and that was no different in 2008-2009.  On stage, it is always about creating theatrical productions that offer deeper, richer, more rewarding experiences for our audience, within the framework of new plays, regional premieres and American classics.  With two regional premieres and two American classics, we surpassed our literary goals, while offering some of the best individual and ensemble performances ever seen at Merrimack Rep.”

Zainab Jah and Mark Zeisler in Tranced - Photo by Megan Moore

Zainab Jah and Mark Zeisler in Tranced - Photo by Megan Moore

Towers added, “In spite of the recession, Merrimack Rep’s outstanding staff has taken the critical steps necessary to produce our next first-rate season, with two world premieres – a new production created by The Flying Karamazov Brothers and a new play we have commissioned from playwright Richard Dresser – and three regional premieres, Heroes, Black Pearl Sings!, and The Blonde, the Brunette and the Vengeful Redhead.  We continue to stand by our mission of creating ‘vibrant contemporary theatre for a vibrant contemporary audience,’ and applaud our subscriber base of 4,000 audience members who demand and support non-commercial, artistically-oriented theatre.”


The success of Merrimack Rep’s Secret Order also continued.  After being invited to produce the show Off-Broadway in 2007, Artistic Director Charles Towers was asked to direct a production of the play at the Tony Award-winning Alley Theatre in Houston this past October.  Secret Order was well received by the Houston audience, with The Houston Press saying “the dynamic cast, under the sharp direction of Charles Towers, creates a high-stakes world that will keep you on the edge of your seat.”

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